The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows

by Kelsi in , ,


 

The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows is a compendium of invented words written by John Koenig. Each original definition aims to fill a hole in the language—to give a name to emotions we all might experience but don’t yet have a word for.

All words in this dictionary are new. They were not necessarily intended to be used in conversation, but to exist for their own sake; to give a semblance of order to a dark continent, so you can settle it yourself on your own terms, without feeling too lost—safe in the knowledge that we’re all lost.”

 

A quick breakfast...chia pudding

by Kelsi in


 
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This vanilla chia pudding recipe comes from Amy Chaplin’s beautiful book At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen which has been in my cookbook library for the last few years but I’ve been revisiting. It’s a great one.

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It is fantastically easy and my go-to make ahead breakfast. Top it with berries, stewed apples or my favorite, simple fruit sauce. I often take it with me on long teaching days when I need something quick and nutritious to eat. My favorite container is this Klean Kanteen insulated canister

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And this is my favorite on-the-go cutlery from Black + Blum

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VANILLA CHIA PUDDING

serves 6 - 8

1/2 cup chia seeds

1 vanilla bean

1 cup raw cashews, soaked for an hour or two

4 cups filtered water

7 Medjool dates, pit removed

pinch of sea salt

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

2 tablespoons coconut butter or coconut oil

4 teaspoons vanilla extract

Place chia seeds in a medium bowl.

Drain and rinse cashews, and add to blender with 4 cups water, dates, salt, cinnamon, coconut butter or oil, vanilla extract, and the scraped seeds from the vanilla bean (add the vanilla bean pod to the bowl with the chia seeds). Blend on high until completely smooth.

Pour only one cup or so of the liquid into the bowl with the chia seeds and whisk thoroughly to prevent clumping. Add remaining liquid and whisk again. Let mixture sit for 10 minutes, whisking a few times. Place in fridge for at least 2 hours (preferably overnight) or until completely chilled. Remove vanilla pod before serving. Store in the fridge for up to five days.

 

Snow Dayz

by Kelsi in , , , ,


 

We are coming off of a long week of epic snow here in Seattle…

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School closures allowed for some good sledding runs in the backyard…

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There was also boredom (my son’s). So I made him read “Let Children Get Bored Again” in the NYTimes. Kidding, but it is a great article that you should read. It’s a good reminder for us adults too…

And in a throwback to my childhood, we made Shrinky Dinks. While my son was busy drawing characters from Zelda, I traced a favorite photo of him…

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I made the soccatas from Gwyneth Paltrow’s new cookbook The Clean Plate for breakfast and they are super easy and so satisfying, especially on a cold winter morning…

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I harvested the remaining kale from the garden that I planted back in August, just in case it didn’t survive the heavy snowfall…

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Which reminded me to make a Row 7 seed order. I ordered two pounds of the Upstate Abundance Potatoes that were a hit last summer and a packet of these new absolutely beautiful Tetra Squash

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I had my eye on that classic Filson briefcase to carry my laptop but my husband just gifted me his AER Commuter Bag that I love…

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Brandi Carlile’s 2007 album The Story may be the last cd I ever bought before everything went digital. I used to listen to that title track over and over when I was alone. I would crank it up so loud, her powerful voice overwhelming everything. I have now watched and listened to her recent grammy performance over and over which brings tears to my eyes every time and I can only think “what a badass.” Thank god for artists and thank god for music…

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From my wishlist...

by Kelsi in , ,


 

I’m looking for a new bag to haul my laptop and this classic Filson Dryden Briefcase is everything I want…

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It might need a Salt strap, part of “the new mom uniform of Park Slope”…

Photo from    The NYT

Photo from The NYT

I can’t stop looking at these Nike Cortez SEs. I think that metallic gold would add enough pizzazz to carry my wardrobe through the gray winter…

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And thinking ahead to spring, I’d like to order this sweet Tilit jumpsuit

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We don’t have plans to travel to the sun until May but I need a new one piece swimsuit and this classic one from Andie Swim looks great…

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And while way out of my budget, I have a sweet spot for this Rothko-inspired Ko rug from DWR…

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Go-to Weeknight Pasta

by Kelsi in ,


 

This perfect spaghetti is my go-to throw it together weeknight pasta. It is so satisfying, and even my very picky son will eat it.

During the summer when my garden is overflowing with tomatoes I will use fresh, but for the rest of the year I love these Bianco DiNapoli whole peeled tomatoes

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One of my most favorite shortcuts in the kitchen is having a container of peeled garlic in the refrigerator. It may seem like such a small thing but it makes a huge difference in getting something pulled together quickly, especially when you don’t really feel like cooking…

And the brown rice pastas from Jovial are incredible and the only ones I use. The texture and flavor are stellar and you’d be hard pressed to distinguish it from regular wheat pasta. You can find them at PCC, Whole Foods and on Thrive Market

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SPAGHETTI WITH TOMATOES + ANCHOVY BUTTER

adapted from Alison Roman

12oz SPAGHETTI

KOSHER SALT

6 TABLESPOONS UNSALTED BUTTER

3 OIL-PACKED ANCHOVY FILLETS

4 GARLIC CLOVES, THINLY SLICED

1 28oz CAN OF GOOD QUALITY WHOLE PEELED TOMATOES, DRAINED (OR 2 LBS FRESH TOMATOES)

CHOPPED TARRAGON AND/OR PARSLEY

MALDON FLAKE SALT

Heat butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook anchovies and garlic, stirring often, until anchovies are broken down and garlic is soft, about 4 minutes.

Add tomatoes; season with kosher salt and and cook, stirring occasionally, until falling apart, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, boil the pasta in generously salted water (it should taste like the ocean) according to package directions. Reserve ½ cup pasta cooking liquid.

Toss pasta with the tomatoes (and reserved cooking liquid if it looks dry); cook until sauce coats pasta, about 2 minutes. Toss in herbs and sprinkle with Maldon to serve.

IF USING FRESH TOMATOES

You will need to remove the skins first. In a pot large enough to fit the tomatoes, fill ¾ with water and bring to a boil. Cutting through the skin, make an “x” on the bottom of each tomato with a knife. Turn the heat off and submerge the tomatoes in the water for 20-30 seconds, depending on the size of the tomatoes. Remove the tomatoes from the water with a slotted spoon and place on a cutting board. Slip the peels off, core and chop into quarters. Then proceed with the recipe.

 

Attention is not a resource

by Kelsi


 
Photo by   Christoph Schmidt/dpa/AFP/Getty

Photo by Christoph Schmidt/dpa/AFP/Getty

Attention is not a resource but a way of being alive to the world.

“…the emergence of the ‘quantified self’ movement, in which ‘life loggers’ use smart devices to track thousands of daily movements and behaviours in order to (supposedly) amass self-knowledge. If one adopts such a mindset, data is the only valid input. One’s direct, felt experience of the world simply does not compute.”

Besides expert advice on ‘digital hygiene’ (turning off notifications, keeping our phones out of the bedroom, and so on), we can be proactive in making a good amount of time each week for activities that nourish us in an open, receptive, undirected way: taking a stroll, visiting a gallery, listening to a record.

Perhaps most effective of all, though, is simply to return to an embodied, exploratory mode of attention, just for a moment or two, as often as we can throughout the day. Watching our breath, say, with no agenda. In an age of fast-paced technologies and instant hits, that might sound a little … underwhelming. But there can be beauty and wonder in the unadorned act of ‘experiencing’.”

Read the article in its entirety here.

 

Good Intentions

by Kelsi in , ,


 

I am big on goal setting, or rather intention setting. Goal setting was a big thing when I was a kid training as a rhythmic gymnast. “Finish in the top eight” or “make the national team” might have been the thing for that year. The focus was always on the outcome. But as I’ve grown and acquired a bit more wisdom, I am way more interested in setting intentions and the actual process of doing or learning something than accomplishing a task in and of itself.

Intentions allow us to be fully present and also provide room for change, growth, mistakes, and joy. I am big on “respecting the process” and apply that mantra not only in my own life but also in how I parent and how I teach in the Pilates studio - “We are not trying to do something perfectly or move in a perfect way. The intention is what matters - moving with intention, reaching with intention, standing with intention, looking with intention.” I talk about it every day.

I’ve always loved this passage from Maria Popova’s “10 Learnings”:

Presence is far more intricate and rewarding an art than productivity. Ours is a culture that measures our worth as human beings by our efficiency, our earnings, our ability to perform this or that. The cult of productivity has its place, but worshipping at its altar daily robs us of the very capacity for joy and wonder that makes life worth living.

This year I want to really focus my intentions on my (and in turn our) financial life. More than just monitoring our spending (thank you YNAB!) I want to really change my spending habits and be even more thoughtful in all aspects of our spending and consuming life.

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My “remove from cart” mentality applies not only to impulsive online shopping but to all our spending and household necessities.

We rarely eat out but good quality local food is expensive and our monthly grocery bill is large. So beginning this month I set an aggressive grocery budget on You Need a Budget and I already know that around January 23rd I’m likely going to be hitting the ceiling. And when that happens, I’m going to play with only cooking from the pantry and cleaning out the fridge and see how far I can stretch it. I like a good challenge.

As I was thinking about all this, the January newsletter from PCC arrived with “Food Waste” as the primary issue - “If you don’t buy it, you can’t waste it.”

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My favorite place to write down all of my intentions, not just in January but throughout the year, is in a Moleskine notebook

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With a fresh Micron pen

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Polentina alla Toscana

by Kelsi in ,


 

This was a lovely meal to welcome the New Year. And proof that simple can be extraordinary. It is from David Tanis’s One Good Dish.

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POLENTINA ALLA TOSCANA

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil plus more for drizzling

1 large onion diced

1/2 pound carrots peeled and diced

4 celery stalks diced

1 large fennel bulb trimmed and diced

salt and pepper

1 medium leek trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch squares

1 bay leaf

1/4 cup polenta

6 cups chicken broth

1/2 pound Tuscan kale

1/2 teaspoon grated or finely chopped garlic

Pinch of red pepper flakes

Leaves from 1 rosemary sprig

In a heavy pot, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrots, celery, and fennel, season generous with salt and pepper, and cook for 5 minutes or so, until barely softened. Add the leek and bay leaf and cook for 2 minutes.

Add the polenta, stirring to distribute it, and raise the heat to high. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and allow the soup to simmer for about an hour; the broth should be just slightly thickened. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

Meanwhile, wash and roughly chop the kale. Drain in a colander but do not dry. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a wide skillet over high heat. When the oil is hot, add the greens, stirring as they begin to wilt. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and season with salt and pepper. Turn the heat to medium and cook until the greens are tender, about 5 minutes more. Set aside.

To serve, ladle the soup into bowls and top with the kale. Sprinkle with the finely chopped rosemary, drizzle with more olive oil and sprinkle with parmesan if desired.

 

December 31

by Kelsi in , , ,


 

It has been a spectacular week of rest and celebration. And we’ve spent so much time at home, our little clan of three, finding immense joy in just being together. We’ve had more than a few days of lighting a fire and then never leaving this spot for the entire day…

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On Christmas Eve dear friends joined us for dinner. The kitchen was sparkling clean and the sun was shining…

We took the kids to the park for some fresh air and then came home, opened a bottle of Champagne and our friends put together a spectacular clam chowder with smoked marrow from Ox in Portland. Even without the smoked marrow, I’d make this my default recipe for chowder or even an elevated potato soup. It has a hefty amount of cream so it is rich, but without any flour or roux it isn’t thick but instead broth-y and pretty darn special…

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For dessert I made a flourless chocolate cake and my new favorite holiday cookie, grapefruit-fennel shortbread. (Side note: shortbread are incredibly easy to make gluten-free as they depend on butter rather than gluten as the binder. I subbed brown rice and oat flour for the AP flour.)

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There were also small, but delightful discoveries this week like giant pyramids of Maldon in the salt dish…

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And I have a few favorites among the gifts I gave and received this year, starting with these Starry Knight booties I found for my niece. My son had a similar pair that I loved. They are the perfect shoe for little feet that are just learning to feel the ground beneath them…

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I bought matching Grace Lee diamond disc bracelets for myself and my bestie - a pretty good upgraded friendship bracelet if I may say so. And I love that whenever I catch sight of it, I am reminded that she’s out there in the world…

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I also upgraded my rather tattered robe with this beautiful waffle weave one from Coyuchi

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I mentioned Askinosie Chocolate in my holiday gift guide. I bought a few bars to give as gifts, but to be honest they never made it out of my house. This Askinosie vegan milk chocolate is hands down the best chocolate I’ve ever had. Just incredible…

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I also fell hard for these Zwilling Madura nonstick pan. (I now have the 8” and 11”.) Bon Appetit proclaims it “the best nonstick pan we’ve ever used.”

We got rid of all of our chemical laden non-stick pans years ago and had a single 8” Greenpan for the sole purpose of making Spanish tortilla. However when we redid our kitchen, that little pan was the only one that wasn’t compatible with our new induction cooktop.

I am happy to say I can once again cook tortilla española but these pans have also been wonderful for making hashbrowns and fried rice and since we don’t have a microwave, reheating leftovers like pasta…

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I bought two of these extra-large LL Bean hunter totes that were perfect for toting gifts to and fro…

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Plus they have a coated lining so they wipeout and clean up like a dream. I think the large size would make perfect grocery totes…

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And the one thing I really hoped to receive this year was a pair of these short Hunter Chelsea boots (thank you in-laws!).

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Happy 2019. Wishing you peace and joy into the New Year.





 

The Only Pie Crust You'll Ever Need

by Kelsi in


 

For most people, even seasoned bakers, making really great flaky pie crust feels intimidating. Over the years I’ve learned a lot from pie classes at The Pantry, I’ve used a pastry blender, the fraisage method, the food processor and I think without question, Stella Parks’s “No-Stress Super-Flaky Pie Crust” recipe and method is the most accessible and foolproof way to do it, even if you are a complete novice and have never attempted pie crust before.

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The recipe can be found in Stella’s fantastic book Bravetart as well as the Food 52 Genius Desserts book which I think hands down is one of the best books of the year.

Watch this great video on how to do it on Food 52 and find the recipe here

Now what if you wanted to make a gluten-free version that could stand up to the all-purpose flour one and no one could tell? Impossible you say? Not any longer. Enter Alanna Taylor-Tobin’s Alternative Baker which has actually been out for a couple of years but is completely new to me.

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There are so many talented people who are reimagining and redefining what it means to bake gluten-free. Many are trained pastry-chefs. Liz Prueitt of Tartine fame is one. Her book Tartine All Day is really great. And Aran Goyoaga (who’s second book comes out next fall where she’ll help us all make gluten-free sourdough bread that looks like this) has been a long-time inspiration with her blog and book Small Plates and Sweet Treats.

It is completely possible to bake pretty much every cookie and cake that you can imagine and that you wouldn’t tag with a “these taste gluten-free” label. Really stellar, flaky pie crust however, at least for me, has been a little more elusive, until last week…

I used the gluten-free all butter pie dough recipe from Alternative Baker which is also available on Alanna’s great blog The Bojon Gourmet. However instead of using the fraisage method she favors I simply used Stella Parks’s technique to make the flaky layers. I wrapped the dough and let it rest in the fridge for at least one hour and then proceeded.

And now I can’t stop. I made Pamela Salzman’s salted maple apple galette over the weekend…

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Next up is this savory potato radicchio galette I’ve had bookmarked for months…

Image via    New York Times

Image via New York Times

Go forth and get your pie on!